FLAG Telecom to build major submarine cable system across the Middle East

February 17, 2004 London -- FLAG Telecom today announced FALCON, a new high-capacity resilient loop cable system providing multiple landings throughout the Gulf region, with submarine links stretching to Egypt in the west and to Hong Kong in the east. Across India, the FALCON system will interconnect seamlessly with Reliance's 80,000-km high-speed domestic infrastructure, allowing customers to access major cities connected along the network.

February 17, 2004 London -- FLAG Telecom today announced FALCON, a new high-capacity resilient loop cable system providing multiple landings throughout the Gulf region, with submarine links stretching to Egypt in the west and to Hong Kong in the east. Across India, the FALCON system will interconnect seamlessly with Reliance's 80,000-km high-speed domestic infrastructure, allowing customers to access major cities connected along the network.

Commenting at today's announcement, Patrick Gallagher, CEO, FLAG Telecom, said: "FALCON will dramatically change the global communications infrastructure balance," contends Patrick Gallagher, CEO of FLAG Telecom. "We have recognized for some time that the exploding market demand from major growth economies could not be served by the bandwidth connectivity serving the Middle East and Asia today. Across India, FALCON will also provide access to all major cities, offering customers direct connectivity into and across one of the world's largest growth economies from any metropolitan center connected to the FLAG global network, and all at the level of quality and reliability for which FLAG is renowned," he adds.

This announcement follows months of project development work, and the carrier is now in final negotiations with a shortlist of suppliers, confirms Gallagher. All initial engineering work has been completed and preparations for the marine survey are under way.

FALCON will include the Gulf region's first self-healing submarine network ring, providing all countries connected to the high capacity cable with extremely reliable, high quality connectivity. Countries that have the potential to directly access this resilient connectivity include Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, and Iraq. All of these countries have expressed interest in joining FALCON and most are in advanced discussions with FLAG Telecom regarding their participation. Branching units can be added along the entire FALCON cable route to allow more countries in the region to connect to the system as their communications needs continue to expand.

The western link of the FALCON system will land at Telecom Egypt's Landing Station at Suez, where the cable will integrate with FLAG's global network. FALCON will then follow a route through the Red Sea along the East African coast and across the top of the Arabian Sea before landing in Oman.

Travelling from Oman along its easterly link, FALCON will cross the Arabian Sea to a new Reliance-owned landing station at Mumbai, India. At this point, FALCON will interconnect seamlessly to Reliance's pan-India 80,000-km high-speed backbone network linking approx 1,100 cities and towns across the length and breadth of the country. At Chennai, on the East coast of India where a second Reliance landing station is being built, FALCON will again become a submarine system, linking India to Hong Kong, where the cable will once again integrate with FLAG's global network.

FALCON will be funded by FLAG, Reliance, and commitments from participating operators.

FLAG's cable network already spans the globe. FLAG offers customers east and west routing, meaning traffic can be switched at any time to avoid a cable cut or natural disaster. FALCON will also provide additional resilience across the major route from Egypt to Hong Kong and particularly around the Middle East.

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